Thursday, December 24, 2020

109. Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection

Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection by Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, and Erica Vetsch. 2020. Kregel. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Joy to the World contains three holiday-themed novellas set in Regency England; the novellas are Heaven and Nature Sing by Carolyn Miller, Far as the Curse is Found by Amanda Barratt, and Wonders of His Love by Erica Vetsch. 

First sentence of Heaven and Nature Sing: THE MUTED GOLD-and-rose-flowered wallpaper of the drawing room seemed to dip and sway as Lady Grantley’s words crept past Edith Mansfield’s disbelieving ears.

Premise/plot: Edith Mansfield is attending a house party--hosted by her godmother. When she arrives she learns that her former fiance, George Bannerman, is also a guest. The two were madly in love last Christmas, unfortunately, after saying yes to his proposal, she had to take it back the next day. This
Christmas will they fall in love again? Will she get a second chance with his heart? Will he forgive her for not explaining fully why the engagement had to end? Is she still in his heart? 

My thoughts: I found this story thoroughly charming. Yes, it is a bit reminiscent of "Last Christmas," but it's super sweet and not a bit annoying. I enjoyed the characters and the plot.

First sentence of Far as the Curse is Found: EVEN THE SKY wept at the sight of him. Dwight Inglewood, the Earl of Amberly, stared out the rain-streaked window of the carriage. London, that grand and fabled city, wore the raiment of a storm. Thunder growled. Thick clouds hung low in the sky. Rain pelted the carriage roof. Pedestrians, dark-garbed blurs of movement, hurried down cobbled streets.

Premise/plot: Dwight Inglewood, our hero, wears a mask to hide his war scars; he shuns the world because he fears rejection--no, he fears repulsion. He doesn't want to be labeled a 'monster' or 'beast.' Nor is he seeking pity. He's content--for the most part--to stay hidden away in the country and remain out of sight and out of touch with the world. But this December sees him visiting London for a few days on business. And while there he rescues Jenny Grey, our heroine--not once but twice! He offers her a job--as a housekeeper in training--at his country estate (he's an earl, of course). And there's a place for her baby, Anna, as well. Can opening his heart to her friendship prepare the way for opening his heart to the wider world? Can she see past his scars and love him just the way she is? Will a few fights in the falling snow and a wondrous library work its magic?

My thoughts: This *has* to be inspired by Disney's Beauty and the Beast. It is a CHARMING and heart-warming story of second chances and redemption. I love, love, loved this one so much.

First sentence of Wonders of His Love: DID A TURTLE ever protest the restrictions of its carapace? Did the canary resent the cage, no matter how gilded, and imagine soaring through the sky? Did a sheep long to leap like a stag and escape the paddock? Cilla played another series of arpeggios on the pianoforte, letting her mother-in-law’s monologue about her various aches and dissatisfactions drift around her. This day varied little from those that had come before it, for weeks, months.

Premise/plot: This novella is set at Haverly Manor. Our heroine, Cilla Haverly, is a widow with a baby--a girl. If her baby had been a son, he'd be the heir. Alas, her husband's younger brother has inherited the title and estate. Him and his wife are expecting a child of their own soon. The mother-in-law (Cilla and Charlotte's mother-in-law) has commissioned portraits of the happy couple to be painted. Hamish Sinclair is a portraitist. He is hoping to be accepted soon in the Royal Academy of Artists. He is immediately attracted to Cilla--but is it mutual???--he can't resist drawing and sketching her and her young baby as well--even though his 'real' commission is of the duke and duchess. Will this holiday season give Cilla a voice and a choice? 

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. Primarily because it stars a Scots man, HAMISH SINCLAIR. Scottish dialect gets me every single time. It's one of my biggest weaknesses. Now the story is good too--solidly good. 

Overall I greatly enjoyed the three stories. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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